Saturday, September 26, 2009

Porn and Popcorn clarifications

When giant discussions/debates erupt in my comments, I'm generally more pleased than annoyed. I consider it a success that I have enough readers who care enough to keep checking back. Even when someone posts something trollish, or maybe just something I disagree with, I usually don't have to take the time to reply because someone else will. But the comments from my letter to the editor about Porn & Popcorn have exploded, and I feel compelled to personally reply before the arguments get any sillier.

First, Donny Pauling, the ex-porn producer who spoke at the event found my post and has done most of the posting. To be honest, Donny, I really don't need to say anything to you because your posts have totally proven my point. You retold the same stories you said at the event that show you and other horrible predators are the problem, not porn itself. You also show that you have absolutely no solid evidence for your claims, only emotional stories that may or may not have actually happened. Show me scientific studies by unbiased groups that show the same evils of porn you claim exist, and then I'll take you seriously.

I'm not necessarily 100% pro-porn. I recognize that there are probably plenty of issues in the industry (just as there are with any industry). There are probably women who get tricked into doing it or who suffer negative consequences, and it may contribute to unrealistic body image expectations of women - but that doesn't mean all porn is bad, or that porn itself is actually the problem. I would argue our society's views on sex in general are the real problem. If we had comprehensive sex education, people would know how to properly use contraception, would know what real sex is like, would not use porn as their standard. Everyone would be able to recognize it as purely fantasy (a thing I think most people do anyway), just like watching a romantic comedy and realizing all relationships don't happen like that, or a sci-fi movie and knowing aliens really haven't invaded the Earth. And to argue that porn is the only thing presenting unrealistic images of women is laughable - have you ever watched tv, read a magazine, seen any advertisement? Unrealistic body images is a thing we need to confront, but the way to do that is not to demonize porn.

Oh, and Donny? While I usually don't condone arguments devolving into caps lock and swearing, I'm going to have to agree with jemand:
WOMEN!!! WOMEN you FUCKING IDIOT DOUCHBAG! You are such a misogynistic prick... of COURSE you have to call them girls, because then you can dismiss and belittle their choices.
You deserve this reaction because you were acting like a total prick and provoking the commenters with your passive aggressive and misogynistic comments. The fact that you needed this as an excuse to give up on the discussion shows how your arguments don't have a leg to stand on. You could have been the better person, ignored it, maybe even apologized for obviously causing hurt feelings - but instead you used it as an excuse to run and hide. Thank you, Donny - now I won't have to have my inbox cluttered with your repetitive, long winded comments.

Miranda, who apparently helped put on the event, claims:
"You came to this event to make it into a joke, to try to provoke us and to cause debates."
Really? Prove it. Where did I ever say that was my goal? I went with many club members, and I repeatedly told them to be respectful, to not shout things or interrupt, and to try to keep their giggling to a minimum as to not disrupt others. Nor did I want to start any debates or piss people off. I did want to ask questions since the event presented such gross misinformation, but of course, it didn't allow for a Q&A session. When not able to do that, I decided to post my review on my own personal blog. If someone disagreeing with you offends you so much, either get some thicker skin, improve your arguments, or just avoid the internet altogether. And Miranda, you didn't need me to make the event into a joke - it did that all on its own.
"But just because you disagree does not give you the right to take things out of context and spread lies about what was said."
Both you and Donny have claimed that I spread horrible lies about the event, yet have failed to present any proof of this. The only thing Donny has pointed out was that I said a mechanic, rather than his buddy, said his God inducing electrical shock was a shock plug problem. I admit this tiny detail was wrong, but it's also irrelevant to the point of the story. If that's the worst I did, I'm ahead of most of the American media. I had a notebook that I was taking notes in, and many of the others who were there confirmed the quotes that I mentioned. Do I need to start bringing video cameras to events to prove what ridiculous things they're saying? Actually, that may have been better. That way I could have just posted the video without my commentary, and then when hundreds of people reached the same conclusions as me, you'd have a lot harder time calling me biased.
"...but my questions is why can’t you accept us for our beliefs? You chose to believe in no god or in a god that is not involved, and that is your choice. I chose to believe in God and in Jesus, so why can’t you accept my beliefs and the beliefs of Stewart Cooperative and of XXXChruch?"
You can go on believing whatever you want. And I in no way want to ban Christian groups from voicing their opinions, a position I explicitly state in my letter. But that doesn't mean that I need to shut up and accept whatever you're saying. You have the right to state your opinion, and I have the right to say you're wrong. If this was just some private event at a church or something, I wouldn't bother - but you decided to present this nonsense to the entire student body. Not only that, but PSUB, an organization meant to represent all Purdue students, sponsored it. I have the right to go, and I have the right to say it was awful.

85 comments:

  1. *Claps hands*

    *And feet, somehow*

    *Ignore weird mental picture plz*

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  2. No, Sili! No! Stupid! Do not develop any more internet crushes! :slaps hand:

    Agreed, there are issues with pr0n, but somehow I don't see them calling for a complete eradication of religion, because churches expolit people. Strange, that.

    As it happens I mainly enjoy gay porn, since I can't find anything that portrays women in a way I like. And additionally, I seem to mainly enjoy drawn porn which actually does much the same disservice of badly partraying men. I should just go back to reading, really.

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  3. "As it happens I mainly enjoy gay porn, since I can't find anything that portrays women in a way I like."

    THIS

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  4. "I chose to believe in God and in Jesus, so why can’t you accept my beliefs "

    I have to admit that I always find this comment by Miranda to be perhaps the ultimate in irony, if not arrogance.

    Let's see, Miranda comes to atheist Jen's blog, and complains about atheists being "non-accepting" of her beliefs - you know, the ones that she exhibited at an event where she and her friends went to proclaim the evils of porn and how those people who don't accept the premise that porn is evil (and it is a premise, not a conclusion) are awful sinners.

    Miranda wants us to accept HER beliefs, but doesn't accept ours. In fact, she actively goes out and tries to change them. Hey, she showed up HERE. Nobody chased her down.

    (seriously, she participates in a program ranting again the evils of porn, and then accuses Jen of "trying to provoke"?)

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  5. It's true. I don't accept Miranda's beliefs in any way, shape or form. I accept she has them but I deny them as logical rationale.

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  6. "...but my questions is why can’t you accept us for our beliefs?"

    Where would Christianity be without a strong persecution complex? I seriously don't understand how anyone could believe that someone strongly disagreeing with them is persecution. No one is stopping you from believing what you believe, but we will call out bullshit when we see it. Why can't you accept us for our beliefs???

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  7. You know what, even with all of this bickering there is something that Danny or anyone has yet to state a definition of porn...

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  8. @Mike

    Easily distributed media which a non-trivial percentage of the population could jack off to?

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  9. Well said, for certain.

    It's misconceptions and taboos such as those being spread by these people that continue to prevent us from "growing up" as a society. More power to you for standing up to their lies.

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  10. First off, I have clarified much of what I said in Jen's Letter to the Editor post. So, I will probably only respond this one time of this post.

    "I seriously don't understand how anyone could believe that someone strongly disagreeing with them is persecution. No one is stopping you from believing what you believe, but we will call out bullshit when we see it. Why can't you accept us for our beliefs???"

    When did I say that I was being persecuted? I don't believe what you're doing is persecution at all...I believe we're simply disagreeing, and there is nothing wrong with that. I do accept you for your beliefs, and I truly apologize if you thought I didn't. I will never try to force my beliefs on you, and to be honest the only reason I am on here is to clarify things, not to try to say I'm right you're wrong. In the end, you believe what you think is right for you, and I am glad you can make that decision.

    Pablo, were you at Porn and Popcorn? because the speakers never once accused people who look at porn to be awful sinners. If anything they talked about potential dangers and how God loves you. Whether you believe these things is up to you, and i absolutely will make no judgments on you or anyone for what they believe. I understand a majority of Christians do, and this appalls me. Where did I personally though try to change your beliefs?

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  11. ok, on to jen.

    Like i said in a comment on your other post, I don't think it is worth it for me to post what i believe you took out of context. I think I could point out what I believe you took wrong, but you could come back and make another point of how you're right. It would be a viscous endless circle, and i think it all boils down to we believe very differently. I do apologize for accusing you, and realize now it is just because of our different beliefs that make us see things very differently.

    I would like to thank you for not making a scene. But I am curious, why did you come to the event if you knew you were going to disagree with what was being said?

    Understand we are in no way trying to force our beliefs on you. All Porn and Popcorn was doing was trying to give a different view on porn, to show you an almost behind the scene view. We wanted to talk about our God, what we believe to be true, and to offer help to those convicted. Porn is such a wide topic, with so many different types, it is hard to cover every topic in the few hours we had time for.

    "And Miranda, you didn't need me to make the event into a joke - it did that all on its own."

    It is comments like this that upset me a little. It may have been a joke to you because we do not believe the same; but that doesn't mean it was a joke for everyone. I apologize if you feel like I personally have forced or mocked your beliefs, because i promise you this was not my intention. but do not call this event a joke, because in a sense you're calling our beliefs a joke.

    You are absolutely right with the fact that you can say what you please, and you have the right to disagree with us and our event. But I believe that things have gone a little too far, as in the beginning your problem was apparently with PSUB sponsoring us. But if you look at their criteria, we met EVERY single point, and did not just give them a general overview of the event. I can send you the powerpoint we presented to them, because it was extremely detailed and included almost everything that was said that night.

    ok, hopefully this clears things up. If it doesnt let me know. Obviously we will never agree, but i hope you can see things at least a little bit better from my side, just as i can see things a little bit better from yours. Again i apologize if you were offended in any way, and if you felt I am not accepting you for your beliefs. You have every right to believe what you chose to, just as i have the same right.

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  12. I don't think it is worth it for me to post what i believe you took out of context.

    That sounds exactly like you can't give a single example of what she took out of context. This is just like when Christians complain about us "taking the Bible out of context" and then never providing us with proper context or even why their interpretation is better than ours. This is very weak and lazy.

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  13. It sounds like miranda thinks "taking things out of context" = "not agreeing because of different beliefs"


    But that's so not true. It is relatively objective when someone is taking something out of context, and very different from disagreement and legitimate debate.

    You say "I think I could point out what I believe you took wrong, but you could come back and make another point of how you're right."

    That's most certainly NOT at all a case of someone taking something out of context. It's an admission that what was said at the Porn and Popcorn event was at the very least ambiguous and that Jen has one defensible interpretation of it. At that point it's your problem for being ambiguous and Jen has a valid interpretation.

    But... I've yet to see ANY interpretation of "if he can't be faithful to God, he can't be faithful to you" that is even ambiguously unoffensive. That's just a plain insult.

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  14. Miranda, we ARE calling your beliefs a joke. Not a very funny joke, and one that has caused a lot of suffering (Think Ashton Kutcher) but not something that describes reality. You are free and even welcome to call our beliefs a joke. As long as observable reality matches our worldview, and physical facts continue to confirm this, I'll have confidence in my position, and your position will continue to look silly.

    It doesn't mean we don't think you're a nice person, or that we think you're an idiot, or that we dismiss your opinions offhand. These are all things to be evaluated separately based on evidence, like your facts and your behaviour.

    For example, Donny's testimony seems to be that he did terrible things as a porn producer, and that's why porn is bad. But by saying that, he doesn't accept personal responsibility for his behaviour, and hides behind religion rather than proving his behaviour has changed through his actions.

    If, on the other hand, he'd come out and said "I was able to do terrible things in the porn industry, and that's why we need to go in there, clean it up and monitor it: So that people aren't able to be exploited anymore. So that the industry isn't demonized and stigmatized so much that people being exploited and abused are afraid to go for help." Then he'd be actually doing something to help, and not just perpetuating the hostility that drives it underground and enables people like him (or who he used to be at the very least).

    If domestic abuse occurs in a marriage, you don't stop people getting married. You try and educate the perpetrators, and if they won't learn, you put them where they can't continue to hurt people.

    Sorry, that was long, rambling, and probably full of things people will disagree with. My opinions are my own, and need not apply to Jen, or anyone else on this Blog.

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  15. jemand, "But... I've yet to see ANY interpretation of "if he can't be faithful to God, he can't be faithful to you" that is even ambiguously unoffensive. That's just a plain insult."

    I will explain this again. I can understand how this can be seen as an insult; and for that I apologize. I cannot speak for Shellie, but I will try to explain how I believe she meant it. In our belief, as Christians, God calls us to be faithful to one man or woman. If he/she cannot have a strong relationship with God and maintain that with Him, then he/she will have a hard time doing it in the marriage as well. I honestly do not think she meant it as if you're not a Christian you can't be faithful to anyone. I can see how this would offend you, but I hope you can see how I believe Shellie meant it.

    Rev. Ouabache,
    That is one example how our beliefs have everything to do with taking things differently. As a Christian, we saw it how i explained it above. But with your beliefs, it was taken quite differently. So, I am not lazy, and I have many examples. For one, birth control is a joke. To us, it is, because it fails. As Christians we believe in complete and true abstinence until marriage. So, because we see differently there, we won't agree. Or maybe that Donnie believes the shock of his car was a sign from God. To Christians, that makes sense, but with your beliefs it is outrageous. I can go on, but again, I feel it's pointless. Most of the things that we don't agree on are because of our different beliefs, and you are ignorant if you disagree. So, I can point out what I believe Jen misinterpreted, but I have come to realize it is just because of our different beliefs. I apologize for accusing Jen, because I realize now I was wrong. She and every one else has the right to believe what they want. But I won't sit here and waste my time saying what I believe was taken out of context, because we just see and hear things very differently. I am not lazy, and it is not because I don't have points.

    As far as Christians not having proof, I will agree. Many Christians don't know why they believe what they believe, all they know if what they feel and know to be true. But, if you have questions or want to debate about that, i would be more than willing. If i don't have evidence to debate you, then i will admit it.

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  16. Sentence 1) "If he/she cannot have a strong relationship with God and maintain that with Him, then he/she will have a hard time doing it in the marriage as well."

    Sentence 2) "I honestly do not think she meant it as if you're not a Christian you can't be faithful to anyone."

    so.... I am an atheist. I do not have a strong relationship with God. I have a nonexistent relationship with a nonexistent being.

    HOW are you POSSIBLY saying that you aren't saying that I can't be faithful to someone?


    Or are you saying that "the subset of atheists that has a strong relationship with God can be faithful, and that's what Shelli meant?"

    Honestly I do not follow you AT ALL.

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  17. Rev. Ouabache you are not being persecuted. I don't see Christians dying in large numbers from criticism. If you'd like to know what persecution is, ask a WWII Holocaust survivor (believe it or not, there are more than just Jews that died in concentration camps). Better yet, ask Cambodian families tortured by Pol Pot. You have no idea what persecution is.

    Criticism is just a First Amendment right we non-theists choose to exercise. This notion of persecution is merely just a talking point to make the masses sympathize with you. Yet, the argument has yet to clearly define porn (jemant thank you for your definition, but I need to hear it from the trolls). Because what I consider porn, and what you consider porn may have different criteria. For example, I don't consider the film A Clockwork Orange as a porn, however some will.

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  18. Ok, let me try this again. That specific statement Shellie said applied solely to Christians. With our beliefs, if your Christian spouse cannot maintain a strong relationship with God they will struggle doing the same for you. She was not applying this concept to everyone; just Christians. It is outrageous for anyone to think that just because you don't believe in God means you can't be faithful. If this is what Shellie meant I too will be angry and agree with you; but I believe she meant it to apply only to Christians. I hope this makes more sense. If not, let me know

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  19. But that's not what she said, that's not what anyone reports her saying, you're just putting words in her mouth. And then you think JEN is twisting words?

    If you don't SAY it applies only to Christians, you're either being actively or passively arrogant and assuming that only Christians matter enough to talk to or you actually are actively trying to exclude atheists.

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  20. For one, birth control is a joke. To us, it is, because it fails. As Christians we believe in complete and true abstinence until marriage.

    How do you feel about the figures that statistics that condoms are 98% effective if used properly. Or the fact that 95% of Americans have sex before marriage? Do these numbers mean anything to you or are you just going to block them out since they don't agree with the narrative that you are trying to paint?

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  21. jemand...

    Ok really? All I was trying to do was explain how Christians took that comment. I have been nothing but understanding and kind, so i ask for a little more respect and understanding from you. I can COMPLETELY see how you would be offended by this comment. I am simply trying to say that Christians and atheists think VERY differently in almost every area of life. So therefore, as an atheist, you could not hear the comment as a Christian would. I am NOT twisting Shellie's words, and I have admitted several time that I was wrong in saying Jen twisted words. Do I need to apologize any more? I am not being actively or passively arrogant, nor am I saying that Christians are the only important people. We are humans, and equals no matter our beliefs. This was a Christian event, and was marketed so. XXXChurch is a Christian organization, and with them being a Christian organization at a Christian event, some things will be directed to Christians. Please believe me when I say it was not our intent to exclude people of different beliefs...I cannot speak for everyone, but I am speaking for myself here.

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  22. @Rev. Ouabache I'm sorry I pointed my post at you, it was meant for the dissenter. I saw Rev. and was mistaken

    @jemand I mean to spell your name right, but got a little "trigger happy"

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  23. @Rev. Ouabache...

    it's because "abstinence" is the only method where people see a failure as not a failure of the METHOD but a MORAL failure of the people using it.

    No other method is held to the same standards. If someone doesn't put the condom on right, or forgets a pill, and gets pregnant, that's counted against the effectiveness of the method, not as any sort of moral failing. That's not the case when abstinence fails.

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  24. Rev. Ouabache,
    Sure condoms are 98% affective...when used properly.But most people, especially teenagers,don't know how to use them right. I am all for sex education. I realize waiting until marriage for sex is not for everyone, and in all honesty i would really rather educate people properly then try to force abstinence on people like many Christians do. Abstinence is just what my and other Christian's beliefs are.

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  25. Miranda, the issue here is not one of "disagreeing because we understand things through our different beliefs" or however you like to put it.

    The difference between atheists and believers is simply an issue of epistemology: the question is not "what do we believe?", but "why do we believe it?".

    Until you understand that we reject Christianity (and all supernaturalism) not only because of the specific claims it makes about the world, but because the justifications given for those claims are laughably flimsy, you will not be able to have a productive conversation with us.

    We skeptics reject dogmatic belief not necessarily because of their content (although often we take issue there as well), but BECAUSE they are dogmatic. It's that simple. Until you can divest your statements about the porn industry from the religious baggage you've attached to them, you give us absolutely no reason to take them seriously.

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  26. mcbender,

    I will agree with you on the statement that we disagree not because of what we believe by why we believe it. Very well said. I have not been a Christian long. I too used to look at the church and Christians and laugh, and i loved debating them and hearing them stutter and come up with terrible reasons for their beliefs. I started researching the Bible and all its stories and claims, and am now a Christian...not your average Christian...but someone who has a relationship with God. anyways, first off...can you give me a claim that is "laughably flimsy"?

    I understand that that i have attached porn and religion together, and i am sorry. I see now that it would make no sense to you and would in fact just be a joke. Understand though that since I am a Christian i often tie things with God. But, i see now that this makes no sense for you, and i thank you for pointing it out. So from here on out, i will try not to tie the two together. If i do, point it out. Thank you for helping me see this.

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  27. @Mike: It's alright. It's not the first time that the Rev. thing has caught someone off guard. I am actually a reverend, btw. I am ordained by the Universal Life Church. Got a card in my wallet to prove it too.

    I'm also a Discordian pope, but that is a whole 'nother story. <]:)

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  28. I always figured the Rev. was mildly...I don't want to say misleading. You know what I mean, Rev.

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  29. You ask me to give you an example of a claim that is laughably flimsy? Just name me an argument for God's existence, or an argument that religion is the source of morality, and I'll point out to you exactly why that is the case. I have yet to encounter any argument for these propositions that is not flawed and ridden with logical fallacies.

    Let's take, for instance, the "Argument from Personal Experience"... this is something we often hear. It goes something like this: "I had a strange experience which I can't explain [saw X, heard Y, felt Z] and which made me think about some religious idea. Therefore, that religious idea must be true."

    The rebuttal is obvious. Human experience is notoriously faulty.

    Take a look at something like the Muller-Lyer illusion for a simplistic example: one of the lines looks longer than the other, even if you try to prove to yourself that they're the same by measuring them with a ruler. Our brains get things wrong all the time. The existence of visual illusions like that one demonstrate this clearly.

    Another psychological phenomenon that's well known is that we have a hyperactive tendency to see faces. It's obvious why this is the case: humans are social animals and it is clear why being able to quickly detect faces would be useful to us. However, it often backfires and we see faces where there are none: in the folds of a curtain, say, or in the pattern of burn marks on a grilled cheese sandwich.

    I could go on and on about these psychological phenomena, but I don't see any need to. I trust that you've gotten at least an inkling of my point.

    Which explanation makes more sense: that these "personal religious experiences" are either hallucinations or misinterpretations of ambiguous sights and that our brains jump to conclusions, or that something supernatural must have caused them?

    Furthermore, one can point out that people in many cultures throughout history and all over the world have had personal religious experiences - while believing in different religions! These religions make drastically conflicting truth claims, and therefore cannot all be true. Which of these personal experiences should we therefore take seriously?

    The fact that a naturalistic explanation exists, for which there is strong evidentiary support, means that there is absolutely no reason to invoke the supernatural in explaining these claims.

    Dan Barker is very eloquent on this subject in his book "Godless", which I never tire of recommending. He was an extremely religious Christian for a large portion of his life, and one of the many interesting things he says is that he can still reproduce many of the subjective feelings that he once associated with "speaking with God" and so on. The only difference is that now, he's done the research and understands what they are. I can't do him justice in a small blurb here; his book is well worth reading.

    Do you see what I mean by "laughably flimsy"?

    I've read your Bible. I've done the "research on its stories and claims". It's still a self-contradictory book of myths initially written by Bronze Age goat-herders. Don't give me "I used to be an atheist, BUT..."; it's one of the oldest tricks in the book and in every case where I've seen it used, I've found myself forced to be skeptical as to its veracity.

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  30. To everybody here: I apologize profusely for my long-windedness, and for derailing the subject of discussion.

    @ Jen: I was exasperated by many of the comments and in my haste to reply to them forgot to say that I think your original post was right on target.

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  31. @Miranda

    Some people like having their beliefs challenged. Because if your beliefs can't stand up to challenges, it's not worth holding.

    We're not challenging your beliefs because we think you're evil, we're challenging your beliefs because we think your beliefs are wrong.

    And we want our beliefs challenged because if the beliefs we hold are wrong, we want to know so we can change them.

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  32. "...but my questions is why can’t you accept us for our beliefs? You chose to believe in no god or in a god that is not involved, and that is your choice. I chose to believe in God and in Jesus, so why can’t you accept my beliefs and the beliefs of Stewart Cooperative and of XXXChruch?"

    So... My questions is why can’t those Christians accept us for our beliefs? They chose to believe in a god, and one that is involved in their pants, and that is their choice. I believe in evolution and managing our inherent sex drive, so why can’t they accept my beliefs and the beliefs of all their Christian brethren who drive the porn market?

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  33. @Miranda: "That specific statement Shellie said applied solely to Christians. With our beliefs, if your Christian spouse cannot maintain a strong relationship with God they will struggle doing the same for you. She was not applying this concept to everyone; just Christians."

    Bullshit. Let me quote exactly what Shellie said in its entirety.

    "Atheists? ... Okay, let me just say this. If he can't be faithful to God, he can't be faithful to you."

    She began that statement by addressing atheists *specifically*. I remember it very clearly, because I was an atheist sitting in the audience and found it extremely offensive. She wasn't applying her statement to Christians at all.

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  34. First of all, strinka, I appreciate your comment, and I agree completely. That is the one reason I am replying to these comments. I enjoy seeing things from other people’s view and the challenge of my faith. I understand you think my beliefs are wrong, just as I think your beliefs are wrong.
    On to mcbender…
    You raise very good points…points that made me think really hard. Let me start with the easy thing. It too pisses me off beyond words when Christians say they believe in God because “they could feel Him” or “because they grew up in the church” or “because I got in a car crash and God let me live so I gave my life to Him”. All of that is shallow and superficial and is not a good enough reason to believe in anything. I think it’s ridiculous. Now on to the harder stuff we disagree on. Ok I will give you the point that the human brain is unpredictable and unreliable; but it also more complex than we will ever understand. There are disorders (ex: chronic pain syndrome or Autism) that can’t be explained. Doctors have done research and tests and case studies and nothing has been found…and those are just two examples. So while on the subject of the human brain…that is but one example of why I believe in God. I am assuming you are an atheist (I apologize if I am wrong), which means you probably believe in evolution (Again, sorry if I’m wrong. Correct me if I am). So, first off, do you really think that a bunch of atoms really exploded and over billions of years something as complex and confusing and astounding as the human brain can evolve? Every single human being is different. Some people have a gift for music while other people have a ridiculous IQ while yet some can draw and paint amazing pictures. Everyone’s brain is different, yet anatomically they are al the same. And if evolution is true, that means we evolved from animals. But, when did we all stop evolving? And humans are very different from animals. Sure, we have some animalistic instincts such as sex or protection, but we also have morals and know right from wrong. We have emotions and the capability to love, to hate, to make the choice to do right or wrong. Animals don’t have this choice. So, if we evolved from animals, wouldn’t animals also have emotions like we do?
    Back to the whole human body thing. Each kidney contains I million individual filters and filters about 2.2 pints of blood per minute. One square inch of skin has over 1300 nerve cells and 100 sweat glands. Again, look at the human brain and the nervous system and it’s complexity. The fact that the second you touch something hot, your brain and your body knows it is amazing. The speed at which neurons travel is incredible. All of our chemicals balance out (granted some shift causing problems) but if they shifted too much we would die…yet we’re all born with at least pretty normal chemical balances. The tendons, muscles, bones, joints, and ligaments all work together perfectly to create movement. The different types of muscles (striated, non-striated) are placed in exactly the right locations for what their purpose is. Our hands and feet and all the joints and ligaments that work perfectly together so we can do simple things like write and walk, to more complex things such as operate or play music. Or all of our facial muscles that allow us to show and portray emotions. These are just a few examples.

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  35. Sorry to get carried away with the human body, as I am a pre-med major. Take for instance the earth and it’s placement. If we were thousandths of a millimeter closer or farther away from the sun we would burn or freeze to death. That was by chance? Or look at pictures of the galaxies and their vastness. An explosion caused this? To me, you raise very good points, but look around you. Sure there are fault, but our world is full of them. But there are more amazing facts that outweigh the faults, more tiny, miniscule, small details that far outweigh the chance of an explosion causing the creation of everything. As I’ve stated a million times, you can believe what you like, but in my mind believing that God…any god…didn’t create this world and humans and the universe is a little ridiculous. To me, it makes a whole lot more sense to admit that there is a God, that he created us with a purpose, and because of this we are unworthy of Him and all we can do is live this one life we have for Him.
    As far as all the different religions; this confused the hell out of me too; and to be honest sometimes it still does. If you look at almost every religion, there is one common goal; to be at peace with the creator. In Buddhism they achieve it through meditation and living a good life, in Islam through different forms of sacrifice, in Christianity it’s through following the Bible. But if you look at things from a historical viewpoint, if you follow through how the books (Bible, Torah, etc) were written by whom, Christianity “wins”. Christianity is the longest standing religion, it’s book has the most authors stretched out over the most time, and literally nothing in it conflicts with itself.
    I do see what you mean by laughably flimsy. I agree with you on some points, such as Christians believing in God for shallow, insignificant, and emotional reasons. You say you’ve done research on the Bible and seen how it conflicts. Where does it conflict with itself? I too have done much research and never had such a finding.
    (Jen, sorry we got sidetracked…I hope you’re finding this as interesting as I am…)

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  36. A young earther? o.O!

    "So, if we evolved from animals, wouldn’t animals also have emotions like we do?"

    Have you ever interacted with an animal? They don't feel the same as we do... but memory, emotion, even social customs and culture, can be shared among large brained animals. Dolphins even have distinctive "names" for one another.

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  37. Look at the trees! There must be a god!

    How the hell do you get from "everything is really complex and looks designed" to "there's a supernatural entity who has a special plan for all of us"?

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  38. but arent all those things based on instinct? sure some have memory, but not to the same capacity humans do. They have social customs and culture, but again it can all lead back to instinct. They are not as intelligent as us, nor do they sit and think before they make a decision. A dog does not think "will i bite this person, or should i control what i'm feeling?" it is not possible, because they have instincts, not emotions. So though we have similarities to animals, we are very, very different.

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  39. Miranda...

    I was in that place as you during much of my undergrad. Besides the fact that religion seems intuitive to our minds, a lifetime of Christian indoctrination had contaminated my logic, and I was unable to see things clearly - erroneous logic like you describe, such as "God of the gaps", or "faith in science" filled my mind. Thankfully, at university I found the library full of books written by folks other than Josh McDowell and C.S. Lewis... and by the time I graduated, I was an agnostic, soon to become a happy atheist.

    Because of my own history, I am sure not to mock theists for their belief in God... but seriously, thousandths of a millimeter? Have you any idea how much variation there is in distance between the Sun and the Earth over the course of our elliptical orbit? COME ON!!!!

    You owe it to yourself to be honest... You only have one life. Don't throw it away on some fancy rehashing of Zeus and Hercules.

    OK, that's my two cents.

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  40. to Julie...i do not remember her saying that, but if that is what she said than i will side with you in saying it is absolutely wrong and offensive. It was judgmental and you have every right to be upset. I deeply apologize.

    to JosherBlitz...i have addressed this several times so i encourage you to read other comments, specifically mine in the "letter to the editor" blog jen did. I agree completely that many Christians do not accept people for what they chose to believe and that's wrong and hypocritical; understand though i personally am not like that. You have every right to believe what you chose, and i won't judge. I don't agree or understand why you believe what you do, just as you feel the same for me. What Porn and Popcorn was about was to simply show the possible dangers of porn, how it is becoming more harmful, and telling people about the God we chose to believe in. Again, i go a lot more in depth in other posts and don't have time to repeat everything, so if you have more concerns please read those.

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  41. @Miranda: An animal behaviorist, you are not. I'm a trained veterinary technician who has worked under accredited animal behaviorists, a pre-vet student, and soon will have a BA in Animal Science. Animals do have emotions, and no, not all of them are instinctual. A wolf bitch's devotion to her puppies? Instinctual. An elephant's sometimes multi-year-long mourning period for a lost sibling or cousin? Not even close. Many species of animals are even proving to have the capacity for self awareness and decision-making similar to our own.

    You're pre-med, stick to what you know. When you attempt to make sweeping generalizations about animals, you make yourself look foolish.

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  42. back to josherblitz...i guess we just have reversed roles. i was once agnostic and am now a christian. trust me, i have read much more than josh mcdowell (who i don't even like) and C.S. Lewis. I have read science book after science book, by evolutionist and atheists. Sure, things have shifted in our universe, but everything else shifts too. And that was one POSSIBLE but unlikely fault out of everything i mentioned. I do owe it to myself to be honest. After what i have researched, after what i have read and see every day, i chose to believe in a God, just like you chose not to. Can you really think everything came together out of nothing? the complexity and minuscule details of things we never even notice, all by chance?

    Urban Wild Cat...what i said applies to you. I go from everything is complex and appears to be from design to there must be a creator...because a creator creators with design. He has a purpose and a reason for his creation. I look around me and i see how everything fits together so perfectly, and i conclude that it's too perfect to be by chance, and therefore there must be a creator. I then researched for years trying to find out which religion and god to be true, and i concluded with Christianity.

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  43. to Julie...congrats on all your work in animal sciences...and i am sincere because i know that's hard work. Out of curiosity can you give me an example of an animal making a decision? of thinking through things, weighing the pros and cons, and coming to a conclusion

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  44. @Miranda: Sure. Dolphins, in particular, are an excellent example. They are capable of looking at a problem and working out for themselves how to solve it. Furthermore, they are given situations in captivity that they would not normally encounter in the wild, and are still able to work through it. Use of tools is a great example. In one scenario, a dolphin is given a puzzlebox with a small, round opening, and an assortment of tools of varying shapes and sizes on the floor of their aquarium. The dolphin will through touch and sight, immediately disqualify many of the objects because they are too large or the wrong shape. The dolphin will then take the small, cylindrical objects up to the box and attempt to fit them into the slot until he finds the one that works.

    This is a case where an animal looks at a problem, is able to come to a tentative hypothesis (i.e. the object he needs is small and round, and not large and square), and then select an object (make a decision) that he thinks will solve the problem.

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  45. There are so many errors there that I don't know where to begin. Really.

    First off: yes, I am an atheist (I also identify as an agnostic, an anti-theist, and a skeptic; these things are not mutually exclusive), and I am convinced the scientific theory of evolution is valid. I will not say "believe in evolution" because that's not how it works. However, I am an engineer and not a biologist (I point this out for the benefit of others who may have greater expertise than me, so that they may correct any errors I make).

    I'm going to begin with an ad-hominem. I frame it as such so that everybody will realize that I do not mean this as an actual argument against your position, but I need to say this regardless. How on earth can a medical student not accept evolution? It explains so many aspects of our anatomy and functioning... may I recommend this talk on that subject? I'm sure it will be fascinating even if you come away from it believing it's all rubbish.

    http://richarddawkins.net/article,3561,Randolph-Nesse---uncut-interview-from-The-Genius-of-Charles-Darwin,Richard-Dawkins-Randolph-Nesse-RichardDawkinsnet

    Now, on to your first major error.

    EVOLUTION IS NOT A THEORY OF CHANCE. Beat that one into your head with a sledgehammer if that's what it takes- it's a colossal misunderstanding and a very common one.

    What do I mean by this? Evolution does involve a certain degree of randomness, yes, that's what mutations are and how sexual reproduction works. The important point to grasp is that evolution (or at least natural selection; I know little about any other major forces in evolution, but it's not the only one) relies on NON-RANDOM SURVIVAL AND REPRODUCTION. Richard Dawkins loves to emphasize this point, and he can do it far better than I can. The point is that it isn't random which organisms manage to reproduce and which ones don't - the ones which function better in their surroundings are more likely to do well, and so over time organisms tend to get better suited to their environments and better at doing what they need to do to survive and reproduce. That's it. That's what evolution is. It's not random.

    Now, as to your arguments about how spectacularly complex the human body is; I agree, the human body is complex. All living things are. However, it does not seem implausible to me that it was gradually built up over time: there are countless artifacts of our evolutionary ancestry that are clearly apparent in our anatomy. Just have a look at, for instance, the coccyx, the appendix, etc (If I remember right, there are lots more examples of this sort of thing in the talk I linked above with Richard Dawkins and Randolph Nesse). One of my favourites is to point out the prevalence of lower back issues in humans - it's because our bodies are still adjusting to walking upright, because in evolutionary time it hasn't been very long since our ancestors walked on all fours and much of our anatomy still reflects that. The brain is complex, and variable, but why shouldn't it be? It's quite possible that the intelligence of our species is our main advantage, and if being smarter gave our ancestors an advantage, you'd better bet that the smartest of them would have been the most successful and that trait would continue to develop.

    But let's be succinct here: I'm very sick of the argument from design, because it's intellectually vacuous and doesn't explain anything. One simple question completely refutes it: who designed the designer? If complexity requires design, then the designer must also be complex and intelligent: this is what you say, no? Then doesn't the designer require a designer also?

    Now, to get off the subject of biology.

    (Continued in next post; too many characters)

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  46. You bring up the Cosmological Argument. Let's discuss this a bit.

    Well, first off, your first major error. Thousandths of a millimetre closer to or farther from the sun and we'd all be dead? BZZZZT! WRONG! That's just wrong, seriously. Among other things, do you not realize that the earth's orbit is ELLIPTICAL? It's not a circle; the distance to the sun varies! I admit, that's not exactly the most trenchant point I could be making here, but I think it certainly invalidates your argument.

    Secondly, there's something called the anthropic principle. It seems a little flippant at first glance, but it's a very powerful point. Basically, what it says is that, no matter how unlikely it might be for life to arise, even if it were so unlikely as to only occur on one planet in the entire cosmos, the very fact that we're here asking the question means that we have to be on it! Look at the sheer number of stars that exist, and the sheer number of lifeless planets surrounding them. Once the origin of life occurred, evolution by natural selection can do the rest (all due credit to Richard Dawkins for this argument).

    Let me now ask you a direct question. Suppose this was all created by some god. Why would he create so many lifeless planets if the universe is "fine-tuned for life"? I can't remember who said this, but it's roughly like saying that if there were an object the size of the Earth with a single atom of iron on it, that the Earth was "fine-tuned" for the purpose of holding iron. In fact, the scale is probably even more dramatic, but that should help to illustrate the idea.

    As for conflicts between religions...

    First of all, Buddhism doesn't say anything about "being at peace with the creator". There is a substantial subset of Buddhism that's atheistic. Islam and Christianity are strikingly similar if you compare them.

    Christianity the longest-standing religion? My ancestors, the Jews, would like a word with you...

    "Literally nothing in Christianity contradicts itself"? What are you smoking? Start here to see some of the contradictions:

    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/

    Let's see. Genesis chapters 1 and 2 present the creation in different orders, to start with. And that's just one example; there are too many contradictions to list and I honestly don't care enough to try to remember them all.

    One place you can definitely look, though, is at the four "Gospels" in the New Testament. Try to piece together out of them a single, coherent account of what happened on Easter, without leaving out any of the events. The fact is, it simply can't be done; the four accounts disagree with each other.

    How about the two different genealogies of Jesus in Mark and Luke? One has nearly twice as many generations as the other, and most of the names aren't shared between them at all.

    Seriously, read "Godless" by Dan Barker. He did a great job highlighting many of these - he's devoted several chapters of the book to them. If you aren't familiar with Barker, he was brought up a Christian fundamentalist and went on to be a successful preacher for some 19 years. He's now an atheist, and his writings are one of the best indictments of Christianity I've ever read.

    Perhaps this will serve as some food for thought for you. I seriously doubt you've read as many science books as you claim, or you'd have already encountered these arguments - there's very little new here.

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  47. @Miranda: Christianity *wins*? Good Gods, how wrong could you be? I'll leave your failure to understand evolutionary theory to the many bio majors in the crowd,* but I absolutely will not stand by while history is so badly mangled.

    For one thing, Christianity is not the oldest religion. The oldest religions still practised today are the basic religions of groups such as indigenous Australians [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_aboriginal_religion], which come from a culture approx. 40-80,000 years old. But in terms of organised religion, Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, was born in the city of Lumbini around the year 563 BCE. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism#Life_of_the_Buddha] That is some half a millenium before the birth of Christ, so even one of the examples you *cited* is older than Christianity.

    As for Christianity 'winning', I heartily recommend you have a conversation with a medieval historian. Conveniently, I am one! [in training] Christianity lost quite a few of the battles against early Islam- Islam swept aside much the Byzantine Empire in the east, absolutely crushing all resistance.

    The Crusaders were less along series of back-and-forth struggles between Christians and Muslims and more a sequence of crushing losses inflicted upon the Europeans as Islamic factions squabbled amongst themselves.

    The pagan Saxons continually rebelled against Charlemagne for much of his career, proving themselves bitter opponents of Christendom. He was forced to rely on ever more brutal methods of persuasion to get them to relent.

    In the modern world, Islam is one of the fast spreading religions. Buddhisms, neo-paganisms and other small-scale religions are making widespread gains in otherwise strongly-Christian areas. Nones, including atheists and deists, agnostics and humanists, are gaining strong ground.

    Christianity does not 'win'. It does not even come close. To claim otherwise is to both lie, and horribly offend those whom you claim it is 'beating'.



    *Although how could you possibly study human biology and think we are constructed well? How could you possibly be clever enough to do medicine, have read books on evolution, and yet not understand it? Go read Greatest Show on Earth, then come back and tell us that evolution isn't true.

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  48. But Miranda, your premise is flawed. The appearance of design is not proof of design, or of a designer. And certainly not proof for your specific version of deity.

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  49. All of this goes to show, my long wind is completely useless. The rest of you are doing a much better job of arguing than I am, and with far fewer words.

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  50. wow....miranda, you've never been a skeptic as we use the word. Otherwise you'd have an easy time demonstrating to us objective evidence for believing in the christian god.

    Please, pick up any evolution book, for starters. "Why evolution is true" by Jerry Coyne, would be a good start. Short, easy to read, spells out the evidence.

    But that wasn't why I was posting....I just so happened to run by Penn and Teller "Bullshit" did a show on porn, and specifically, XXXChurch. (hint, it wasn't very favorable for the church, and not too surprisingly, it covers a vast amount of the arguments that have been going on in this blog over the subject)

    Season 6 Episode 1 "War on Porn"

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  51. Miranda -
    Chance is a very small part of evolution - natural selection is the driving force.
    Abiogenesis is a tougher issue for science, but you still don't have a point there. As complex as life is, throwing a much more complicated creature into the mix, such as God, just begs the question of where he/she/it came from. In other words, God is much less probable than godless abiogenesis.

    I do think that we are very lucky to be alive. However, I don't think that means there is a sky-daddy who made us. There is a very large universe out there, of which we are a part. Because of the vastness of our universe, there is a statistical probability for many habitable planets. This guy blogs a lot about the matter.

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  52. When it comes to our place in this solar system, absolutely I believe it is part of the natural order of things. Why? Because there are trillions upon trillions of stars out there. Yes, absolutely we are lucky to have this beautiful, amazing planet on this perfect star in the right spot to create what we understand is life.

    But as we don't really know the odds for it happening, due to the simple fact that it will take a huge leap in technology to map out our universe, let alone figure out the number of stars, we can certainly be a part of a cosmic game of dice that turned up Milky Way Galaxy - Outer Spiral Arm - Sol. Why? Because if the chances are slim, then we happen to be that one in a trillion.

    Everything is complex because complexity evolves. As we look back through the lens of time to forming galaxies, we find they are less complex, and draw together, stars fusing, releasing energy, gravity drawing unorganized groups of gasses into massive and beautiful star clusters that could have a million million systems like Sol's in them.

    Perhaps, Miranda, you are ignorant as to the actual expanse of the universe, as to how many chances life has to work out. Even on this planet, we are part of a constant, imperfect series of evolution. Homo sapiens is not even close to a perfect species, as some people would love for us to believe.

    In the end, there is not one shred of evidence that suggests to the critical thinker that a god exists. There's not one shred of primary sources suggesting that the Bible is true; there's not one shred of archaeological evidence that a massive flood occurred appx. 6k years ago to wipe out the entirety of the world's population. I need evidence to believe. None is there.

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  53. This post was so ridiculous that I had to respond to it on my blog. http://www.hardtruth.squarespace.com

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  54. Ok so first of all, let me say thanks for clearing up the misinformation I had about evolution. That brings in a whole new view for me. As far as your favorite argument of back problems, there are many, many reasons why humans have back problems. For instance, stress. There are chemical reactions that happen when someone is depressed or stressed out, which can cause severe muscle tension…or back problems. Spinal problems often occur because of birth defects or because of weight problems. Our spines and bodies are created to hold a certain amount of weight according to our height/bone structure, and when someone exceeds that, it causes pressure on the spine and all it’s joints and discs. Also work. People overwork themselves all the time, and this causes extreme stress on the vertebrae and disks. Sure it could be because we’re not used to walking upright…but haven’t we been doing that for thousands of year? Wouldn’t our bodies adjust by now? There are much more medically sound reasons for back problems than just evolution.
    Again, I raise the point of why aren’t we still evolving? If anything we are declining. Look at the ancient structures and how amazing and mathematically complex they are; and they didn’t have the resources we have today. Humans are the same now as they always have been.
    Any religion involves faith…and this is where the creator thing comes in. I do believe that God is infinite and time does not restrict Him. I believe He always has been and will be. I’m sure you will ridicule me for this, but it is a choice of faith I have decided to make. I understand this is illogical for you, but no one has any other explanation other than faith.
    And yes, I realize that the earth orbits in an oval…I’m not in elementary school. But, I am talking about the placement in the orbit; not rotation. Of course everything moves and orbits and rotates…but our universe does it together at the same time. Last I heard at least.

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  55. How did the origin of life occur? How did everything start out? As for you direct question. I am going to answer and you are going to be annoyed with my response…but that’s ok. I’m telling you my beliefs just like you tell me yours. Since I believe in God, and since I believe He created everything, I believe that He needs no excuse to have created it all. If anything, it is for our enjoyment (even though we believe differently, you do have to admit some of the star clusters out there are beautiful). And the universe is not “fine-tuned” for life…the planet earth is.
    Ok, so some Buddhists are atheistic. But traditional Buddhist monks believed in becoming one with themselves and the universe. Anyways, Christianity/Judaism are closely related. You claim you read the Bible…yet you didn’t make that connection? There are many different types of Jews. Messianic believe exactly the same as Christians, yet hold stricter to the Old Testament. Orthodox Jews are still awaiting the Messiah…yet it is the same God, and are founded in the same origin, and we use the same Bible. So, yes, Christianity/Judaism is the oldest religion.
    As far as the Bible goes, give me a day or two to research some stuff. I will admit you have challenged me a lot, and will need some time to think about what you said and come to a conclusion. There are some things I could argue here, but I would like to make sure I’ve researched what you’ve given me, and also research what I believe. So I may take a day or so to reply. I hope you understand. And, I have read a lot of science books…don’t call me a liar or pretend to know me. Scientifically I have not looked hard at evolution. And another point: you look at the human body and see a specific pattern and design and believe it to be evolution. I look at it and decide that it’s by a Creator. We see things differently, and I chose to have faith where you chose to have science…you see amazing specific design and say science, I see amazing specific design and say creator. Most of what you are saying is not new, other than the evolution. I have argued many of these points before, but you have brought some stuff into the equation I haven’t. I know my Bible very well, and I know the history behind it too. I just need a day to gather up your arguments and search through some stuff. So, I look forward to your response and hope you can challenge me some more.

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  56. this is to everyone. ok, first off, as i said, i think our biggest problem here is this: you look at science, at the complexity of say the universe or the human body and you draw a scientific conclusion. I look at all that and conclude that there must be someone higher. Both of our beliefs have faults, just very different ones. You can call me ignorant, but i can call you the same thing; we just see things differently. You chose science, i chose faith. We will never, ever agree, because when it comes down to it, that will always be our problem. I will always believe in faith, you will always believe in science. Like i said, i will research what i can and come back in a day or two. I promise to be completely honest in what i find. I hope you all can see my point and accept that i base certain things off faith while you base it off science.

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  57. @Miranda: "Stopped evolving" is an enormous misnomer. Evolution doesn't just refer to large, visible changes in phenotype. Small changes in allele frequency and variation that don't cause a change in physical appearance or function are also part of evolution. Humans have evolved in recent memory. Sickle cell anemia is an example of how an adaptation can be both beneficial and detrimental to an individual's survival. In heterozygotes, it provided resistance to malaria. But in homozygous recessive (I think) individuals, it causes SCA. Humans are for the most part free from predation, starvation and exposure to the elements. We have no environmental pressures that force selection for or against certain phenotypes. Thus the people with SCA continue to live and breed through the advantages of modern medical care, and propagate genes that in a natural environment would be selected against.

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  58. @Miranda: Did you not see my post? Am I invisible? Christianity is NOT the oldest religion on earth. It is not even close. There are quite a few older organised religions (examples include Hinduism, Buddhism, yes Judaism), and even more basic religions which are often millenia (or tens of millenia) older than Christianity. Your religion, on a human scale, is young.

    Any Jews in the crowd can probably counter what appear to be offensively incorrect portrayals of the various strands of Judaism, but I gotta say: you still aren't listening to what was said about Buddhism(s).

    Many Buddhisms are atheistic- they are without gods. The most basic forms of Buddhism focus on personal enlightenment, personal paths to Nirvana- which is, in itself, a vastly different thing from oneness with any kind of creator. Buddhisms that include deities and god-like beings are generally not monotheistic, and your words still could not apply to them. Some Buddhists combine that set of beliefs with Christianity, and that is just as acceptable. The Buddha was very clear that his tenets are not incompatible with other religions.

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  59. This is just a friendly reminder for everyone to play nice. Miranda seems fairly honest and open to discussion, to try to be patient, kay?

    Ok, go back to your discussion, I'm going to go nurse my poor feet from standing at the football game.

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  60. OOOHhhh!!! look! Tom Estes is still following you and while HE doesn't allow comments for trackbacks he wants to point everyone to HIS response ;)

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  61. ok, one last post then im off to do research. first, @goblinpaladin...you are not invisible, and no i did not read your post. i will reply completely when i post again in a few days. I apologize for missing it, as there are many of you and only one of me. I promise i will address what you said though.

    Second, as im looking at the list i made of everything you all said and suggested reading, i am thinking it will be more than a few days. I am also a student am have a busy next few days. I will respond as soon as i can, so check back in about 4-5 days with my response if you're interested. Thanks for all the info, for the talks, for the suggested readings, and for the challenge.

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  62. Awww - Mooney-eyes Estes pipes in. Doncha have a family you should be spending time with instead of cyber harrassing someone?

    You doth protest to much when you get called on this immature behaviour.

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  63. Watch and read mohammed T-shirt art from Sweden at,
    http://www.mohammedt-shirt.com

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  64. You know, I usually don't go for rebuttals aimed at a person / people like this, because they usually fan more trollage than they do good, but I have to say that I was impressed - this was a really well thought out response. Way to go.
    -Julien

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  65. I see things have quietened down a bit now then. :-)

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  66. Miranda says something amazing:

    "Take for instance the earth and it's placement. If we were thousandths of a millimeter closer or farther away from the sun, we would burn or freeze to death."

    Thousandths of a millimeter??!?

    Look, Miranda -- I understand this post is going to come off a little critical, and I'm trying to be sensitive here. But this is honestly one of the dumbest things I've ever heard anyone say, and it's a symptom that you're regurgitating moron creationist sites uncritically.

    Think about this claim for a minute. You can get a millimeter closer to the sun by... climbing a ladder, walking up a slight incline, growing, whatever. If your "millimeters" argument were true, then tall buildings and airplanes would spontaneously burst into flames. Basements would hover near absolute zero. The tops of our heads would feel hot and the balls of our feet would be cold. And so on.

    Miranda, the earth's orbit varies by more than *five million kilometers* (more than three million miles) over the course of the year -- without wiping out all life on the planet.

    So I guess what I'm saying is: if you want to not be an idiot, do yourself a favor and read something other than creationist websites.

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  67. Andrew - why you gotta infer Miranda is an "idiot"?
    We all hold silly beliefs now and then... it's something we share - A folly representative of human kinship, if you will. Please try to understand where others are coming from, and that the environment they have experienced may not have elicited the same kind of questioning, skeptical responses that you have developed. People are not born with critical thinking skills - these are tought by parents or developed later in life (if at all).

    Not trying to rebuke you or anything (I've been guilty of the occasional inhospitable response as well, out of frustration) - but please, try to be patient. The world is overrun by people who unquestioningly believe what their prevailing social environment has encouraged them to believe. The only way we can hope to make progress is through education, teaching critical thinking. Insulting folks merely turns them off, damaging progress.

    I think it took a lot of strength for Miranda to say what she said near the end of her last post (although I am uncomfortable with how the post started - there is no "faith" in science - Science is anti-faith; it's knowledge-based).

    I certainly hope she comes to see what we see... I believe she is capable of it.

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  68. JosherBlitz -- point taken, and I'm trying to be kind here.

    But seriously: millimeters? I mean, that's the sign that you're just repeating what AiG says and not even thinking about it in the slightest.

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  69. "You can call me ignorant, but i can call you the same thing; we just see things differently. You chose science, i chose faith. We will never, ever agree, because when it comes down to it, that will always be our problem. I will always believe in faith, you will always believe in science."

    Miranda, isn't 'science' just a word to describe the act of studying our physical Universe through observation and experiment? When challenged about the reasons for your faith, science is what you seemed to point to. Now you're suddenly distancing your belief (faith) from science. Can you see how that might seem confusing?

    Anyway, I've not studied science beyond a high-school/college level (aside from some casual reading), so I'll put forward some of my own questions to this community with that admission… encouraged that Jen said to 'play nice'… :)

    How does evolution alone explain the very beginning of life? As I understand it, even the simplest living cell is far from simple, and there is no evidence that any living cell can exist without a complex instruction set — DNA. Is that right? If that's so, how does evolution explain the concurrent formation of DNA and all the working parts of the cell necessary for its survival and reproduction? Surely natural selection can't be used to explain a gradual formation of the working cell, because natural selection doesn't come into play until you have reproduction, and you don't have reproduction of cells until the cell is fully functioning. I did once go looking for information about this, and found some interesting hypotheses, but to be honest they sounded extremely improbable to me — like a fairytale I would say!

    Anyway, that's one for the biologists out there. For the physicists, how much credence do you give the 'fine-tuned Universe' idea? One commenter here talked about the unlikely conditions here on Earth being due to the vastness of our Universe, but what about the unlikely conditions in the Universe itself? How is that explained? Multiple universes? Once you start hypothesizing about things like multiple universes (which are really beyond the ability to observe and experiment upon), in order to explain our existence without need for intelligent design, how is your atheistic belief not based upon faith?

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  70. Andrew and JosherBlitz - I think I agree with both of you, which seems slightly paradoxical given that you're (ostensibly) in disagreement.

    I think the sentiment would have been entirely correct if it had been worded as "if you don't want to sound like an idiot" rather than "if you don't want to be an idiot".

    On the other hand, I definitely recognize that stridency may do more harm than good here, and I think in several of my comments I may have crossed the line. Perhaps I ought to apologize for that.

    Essentially, though, this is what it comes down to: there are some beliefs and/or assertions that are simply not worthy of respect. Giving such statements exactly the respect they deserve (i.e., none) is no crime, and should not be misinterpreted as lack of respect for the person holding the beliefs.

    In fact, I'd even go so far as to argue that it's more respectful to attack those beliefs than to kowtow to complacency and let them lie, because doing so assumes that one's opponent is intelligent and capable of participating in a reasoned argument, rather than being a dining room table.

    That comes later. The "dining room table" conclusion should come after the futile conversation occurs (or perhaps, not until several such have occurred), not before or during them.

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  71. @Miranda, You remind me a lot of my roommate. The sane one, not the crazy one. It's good that you're evaluating the claims. I hope you find what you're looking for.

    I wish I was able to stay around a bit more to say more on this, but I'm going to go and laugh at the softlies.

    Lax, I wish I was home so I could comment on that. Still, I'm sure one of our pals will answer it. Someone needs to link that awesome abiogenesis video, though, the one with triumphant music. It answers the biology question pretty well.

    Love and peace, you magnificent bastards.

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  72. This one? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6QYDdgP9eg

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  73. Andrew - I do agree with your response, in its objective condemnation of such silliness (in fact, I did in the post before - search the page for "COME ON!" and you'll find my rebuttal from earlier)

    mcbender - I agree with you almost entirely... however, I'll submit that we should be very disciplined in attacking the opinion, NOT the person (where it is possible). And we must not attack the opinion in such a manner that insults the person (although sometimes this is inevitable, since people will build their entire lives around a lie). I think Dawkins illustrates this issue perfectly: He is very artful at establishing respect for the individual, but tears the opinion apart. However, even in his situation (and others before him, namely Sagan), we see generalists shooting back that they are attacking the person, rather than the belief, simply because the person builds his entire life around the belief. So yes: I also agree with both Andrew and myself, if that makes sense. However, I think Andrew didn't need to tack on that last sentence (that's all I'm sayin') :-)

    Oh, I also want to clarify: I'm NOT condoning censuring, and I'm not trying to censure. Sorry if it seems that way. It's just that, coming from Christianity myself, I see that our cause will spread much better if we keep our arguments as far away from ad hominem as possible, as long as possible.

    peace and love,
    josher

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  74. "Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!'"

    Douglas Adams.

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  75. Awesome post! And for the record, realistic pornography does exist, and it is part of my stable and extremely happy marriage. The stuff we have is generally produced by the women in it, or of women that have their own production companies. Now if they are exploiting themselves, I don't know, but I'm not worried about them too much.

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  76. Great post. You go girl (sorry woman)!

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  77. JosherBlitz -- I think I agree with both of us, too: I shouldn't have added that last sentence.

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  78. Damn I have been missing some fun here.

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  79. I have a friend who has the unfortunate fate of being forced to go to a Christian high school in South Carolina, and he's heard all the same things about sex and porn and atheists that this Porn and Popcorn presentation had to offer, and worse. Luckily, we live in the age of the internet and free information, so he's doing alright. Oh, and with the internet, of course there comes...... *goes to play the Avenue Q song*

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  80. Thank you Douglas Adams for answering my second question. lol

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